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NZ Budget ‘Hack’: Makhlouf continues to mislead over Budget ‘Hack’

31/05/2019

Gabriel Makhlouf just does not know when to stop digging. NZ got this rather unwelcome coverage from the BBC about the 2019 budget – not what Ardern and Robertson were hoping for.

Ardern has been hyping the Wellbeing Budget all year, eg at Davos

This BBC item was not great for NZ, Maklouf, Ardern or Robertson – New Zealand budget: ‘Hacking’ was actually website blunder

New Zealand’s Treasury has admitted that details of its budget – leaked earlier this week – were not stolen by hackers but accidentally made available through its website.

So first things first – the Treasury is immediately labelled as lying

Then

The government called in police after parts of its budget were released two days early by the opposition National Party.

Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf said it had been “deliberately hacked”.

But on Thursday he admitted police had found no evidence of illegal activity.

So he lied. No ifs or buts he lied, as there are reports Treasury knew there was no hack before Makhlouf went on the media on Wednesday. Indeed, Grant Robertson seems to suggest this here, albeit indirectly;

And he said it was disappointing that the Treasury did not seek to find more information as to how it had happened before referring the matter to the police.

Then Makhlouf made things worse

“On the available information, an unknown person or persons appear to have exploited a feature in the website search tool, but … this does not appear to be unlawful,” Mr Makhlouf said in a statement.

This is not what National Leader Simon Bridges claims as this video demonstrates what Bridges claims was the actual process – explanatory video starts

Then it just gets worse, as he reveals Treasury’s total incompetence

He said the Treasury had prepared a “clone” website ahead of the budget’s release on Thursday.

While the cloned site was never online, part of the information was accidentally indexed on the live website. As a result, typing in key search-terms revealed the embargoed budget details.

Mr Makhlouf maintained that there had been “deliberate, systematic and persistent searching of a website that was clearly not intended to be public,” but no further police action is planned.

This is crap. The Treasury’s public website is open to all It has a search function, which I have used frequently. Sometimes when you search, the result is not what you looked for so you expand or change the search. That is not a systematic search. Plus prior to a budget it seems likely that searches related to budget information would substantially increase. So I find Makhlouf’s comments not credible. In fact over a 48 hour period in Budget week and given the Wellbeing hype I am surprised there were only 2000 hits.

Then I came across this
Danyl Mclauchlan at The Spinoff commented

It’s less obvious that Robertson should continue to have confidence in his Treasury secretary, whose department has published confidential budget information to the web, grievously misled the public about what happened and called the police on the leader of the opposition, and is still insisting that searching his department’s public-facing website constitutes serious unethical activity, and that he is the aggrieved party in all this. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a senior public servant take such a strong position in a partisan political debate before, let alone get their allegations so badly wrong. He should at least offer his minister his resignation.

And Ireland has appointed Makhlouf as Central Bank Governor. Did they make the right decision?

So to finish this look at this cluster**** – an apt coda

 

 

 

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